Quantifying the economic health cost of exposure to wildfire smoke: four essays in non-market valuation, methodological comparisons, and econometric methods to address endogeneity

Richardson, Leslie A., author
Loomis, John, advisor
Champ, Patricia, committee member
Seidl, Andy, committee member
Kling, Robert, committee member
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Wildfires and their proximity to urban areas have become more frequent, yet few economic studies have looked closely at the welfare implications exposure to wildfire smoke has on affected individuals. Further, there is a growing concern that human health impacts resulting from this exposure are ignored in estimates of the monetized damages from a given wildfire. Current research highlights the need for better data collection and analysis of these impacts. Using unique primary data, this dissertation quantifies the economic health cost of exposure to wildfire smoke using non-market valuation techniques including the contingent valuation and defensive behavior methods. The individual willingness to pay for a reduction in symptom days as well as perceived pollution levels are quantified and compared to a simple cost of illness estimate. Results indicate that many residents surveyed did not seek medical attention for major health effects, but rather suffered from minor health impacts whose cost is not captured in a cost of illness estimate. As a result, expenditures on defensive activities and the disutility associated with symptoms and lost leisure are found to be substantial for the case of wildfire smoke exposure.
2011 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.
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contingent valuation method
cost of illness
defensive behavior method
wildfire smoke
willingness to pay
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